How To

How To Make a Small Living Room Look Bigger

How To Make a Small Living Room Look Bigger

Not all of us are blessed with ample space in our homes, but that shouldn’t mean compromising on style or functionality. While tiny spaces can be challenging to decorate and furnish, the payoff is incredible when you get it right.

As one of the most frequently used areas in the home, your living room should blend functionality and comfort, a balance that can feel tricky to strike with minimal square footage. Thankfully, with a few killer tips up your sleeve, it’s easier than ever to make a small living room look bigger, turning your little nook into a spacious (well, faux-spacious) paradise.

If you’re desperately seeking small living room ideas for your apartment or house, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 12 tips you should test out in your own small living room to increase the illusion of space and to create a cosy and chic oasis.

1. Keep a consistent colour palette

In a small lounge room, bright or bold colours can feel super overwhelming, and you’ll find many a guide that tells you to nix them all together. We say kick this theory to the curb – it’s totally possible to play with colour in a small space, especially if you love your interiors to stand out! However, a great rule of thumb is to nominate a colour palette consisting of three or four hues before you start shopping and styling. What can actually dwarf a room, rather than bright or dark shades, is an abundance of contrasting colours, so sticking to a set scheme will give you a roadmap to avoid this.

Another tip with colour is to always – and we really mean it – have a neutral colour in your palette. White, ivory or cream tones create the perfect base for styling, and will be similar to your wall colour, which in turn will help to establish the illusion of more space.

2. Go neutral with bigger items

In the same vein, when you’re purchasing those big ticket items like your sofa, coffee table, and entertainment unit, neutral tones lay a great foundation to then style with more colour in subtler ways. White or light wood furniture pieces will blend into the background more, essentially helping you to fake you’ve got more space than you actually do. Using similar colours to your walls and floor will cause the eye to blur them together a little more, freeing up space visually. Then, when it’s time to add decor, use brighter colours in a coordinating scheme to inject a bit of your personality.

Lightweight & low profile: it must be Scandinavian style!
Lightweight & low profile: it must be Scandinavian style!
Lightweight & low profile: it must be Scandinavian style!
Lightweight & low profile: it must be Scandinavian style!

3. Select lightweight, low profile furniture

High on our list of small living room decorating ideas is opting for sleeker, lighter and lower profile furniture pieces. There’s nothing that’ll crowd up a space more than heavy, bulky furniture – but items that are more on the minimal side will conversely create the illusion of extra room, making them an ideal choice. Sofas, coffee tables and other big items that are closer to the ground will stretch out your space by alluding to extra-high ceilings, whereas lighter frames encourage the eye to see through any gaps, and as a result, can make the room look bigger.

A style that lends itself super well to small living room design is Scandi. The Scandinavian interior aesthetic is modern yet soft, light and unfussy, and relies on lots of light wood and sleek, thin frames. Most apartments in this area of the world are smaller, so it’s been tailor-made for fun-sized living rooms through lots of trial and error over the years! For a Scandi look, we love chic and clean picks like the Oslo 2 Seater Sofa, the Kaneko Entertainment Unit and the Mia Coffee Table.

4. Raise your sofa off the ground

One way to make a small living room look bigger is to raise items that tend to monopolise floor space, like your sofa, TV unit and coffee table, so they’re lifted off the ground. The best way to do this (that doesn’t involve any DIY, that is) is to purchase items that already have legs, rather than sitting flat on the floor. By creating space for the air to pass through, so to speak, you’ll also trick the eye to do the same – the more of the floor you can see, the bigger your space will appear! By raising your sofa (and other pieces) off the ground, your living room is bound to look super spacious and luxe. (Plus, it’ll be easier to vacuum – a total win-win.)

5. Add in an armchair

A concern that often arises when furnishing a small space is having ample seating to host the whole family, and when the time comes, guests. It’s a valid point, but often leads budding home stylists to overwhelm their small living room with a really large sofa, leaving little to no space for anything else (or room to breathe, for that matter!). Instead of going all out with a four-seater or massive modular couch, our expert tip is to create a few small pockets of seating that can be moved around in the space or from room to room. By including a smaller sofa, such as a 2 or 3-seater, alongside a couple of beautiful armchairs, you’ll not only increase the versatility of your seating, but you’ll have more opportunities to play with style and colour.

We love armchairs in any living room because they can be used as a stylistic contrast to your sofa. To keep with the raised, low profile theme, we’re currently crushing on pieces like the Seta Armchair, Pia Armchair and Tate Armchair. Alternatively, you might like to introduce an accent chair that’s less bulky and more of a focal point than a traditional armchair – the Attra Accent Chair is an absolutely stunning pick that’ll work with a variety of interior aesthetics.

Think about your living room’s ‘walkability’ to allow practical use of the space.
Think about your living room’s ‘walkability’ to allow practical use of the space.
Think about your living room’s ‘walkability’ to allow practical use of the space.
Think about your living room’s ‘walkability’ to allow practical use of the space.

6. Arrange your furniture to work for you

The question of how to arrange your living room furniture is a tough one, especially in a small space, because it ultimately comes down to practicality. Without any insight into the quirks and intricacies of your living room, there’s no use being prescriptive – however, we do have a few tricks for you to keep up your sleeve when it comes time to arrange your new pieces.

One is to always think about your living room’s ‘walkability’. If manoeuvring the room feels impossible, you’ve added too many furniture items, and might consider editing things down. Consider whether any of your pieces could have a temporary home in another room and be relocated to the lounge room for special occasions.

Our other tip is to keep your floor plan open. By moving pieces away from the walls as much as possible, and centering your design around open space, you’ll impact the flow of the room and create a freer, uninhibited look.

7. Play with vertical space

In a small living room, floor space is a hot commodity that should be used for those key, non-negotiable furniture pieces. But, what happens when things start to feel a bit tight, or you run out of usable floor space entirely? A hot tip to increase the functionality of your small area is to work with vertical space. After all, most homes have a pretty similar ceiling height, and we bet you’re not using all of that free space to its full advantage. Instead of selecting items that are wide horizontally, opt for tall, narrow pieces like bookshelves to counteract any crowding and create tonnes more space for your favourite items.

Thinking about adding a bookcase to your space? Open shelving will be your best bet, as being able to see right through the piece will add to the illusion of more space. Our go-to picks are the Lewes Shelf, Hemming Narrow Shelf and the Lang Narrow Wall Unit – all perfect options for displaying your beloved reads, trinkets, plants and more.

8. Double up on storage

Living rooms tend to house a lot of storage items, including TV units, bookshelves, sideboards and shelves. A layout idea that’ll benefit your small living room is to make your storage do double duty. There are a couple of different pieces that are multifunctional, but perhaps the one we love the most is the humble storage ottoman. Storage ottomans not only provide the space to tuck away items like blankets, cushions and linens, but when closed, they look beautiful and provide a soft spot to rest your feet or sit an additional guest. The Kito Storage Ottoman comes in stunning colours and fabrics (we’re drooling over that beautiful velvet), whereas the Stephanie Small Storage Ottoman has a classic, timeless look with eye-catching tufting.

9. Create the illusion of space with mirrors

Once you’ve nailed your furniture, it’s likely you’re already thinking about how to decorate a small living room. At last, the fun part! Decorating a small space with pretty homewares pieces isn’t too different to adorning a traditionally-sized room – it just requires a little more curation to avoid overwhelming or cluttering the area. You’ve probably heard this tip before, but an amazing way to pretend you’ve got more space than you actually do is to style with mirrors. Whatever size, shape and colour you opt for, a mirror will broaden your space through reflection, tricking the eye into seeing more depth at one time.

The light profile of the Capra Tripod Floor Lamp force the eye to pass through the base rather than looking at a solid block.
The light profile of the Capra Tripod Floor Lamp force the eye to pass through the base rather than looking at a solid block.
The light profile of the Capra Tripod Floor Lamp force the eye to pass through the base rather than looking at a solid block.
The light profile of the Capra Tripod Floor Lamp force the eye to pass through the base rather than looking at a solid block. style!

10. Use quality lighting

The small living room’s number one enemy is definitely dark corners – so it’s crucial that you get your lighting right, creating a bright and illuminated space you can see every crevice of. Include a variety of lamps throughout the space to ensure it’s well-lit and that you’re establishing a layered lightscape that brightens up all of the key elements and pieces in your living room.

Start with a floor lamp, something with a narrow base and stem that won’t crowd up those precious free corners. The light profile and splayed legs of theCapra Tripod Floor Lamp are ideal, as they force the eye to pass through the base rather than looking at a solid block. Then, use free wall or table space to place additional lighting options throughout the space. If you’re really stuck for free space, wall lights will be your BFF, utilising height to project light from various parts of the room.

11. Avoid cluttered surfaces

This might feel like a pretty straightforward tip, but it’s often overlooked in small space design, especially if you’re still trying to style your living room like it’s larger than it really is. There’s a difference between thoughtful decor styling and visual clutter, and the latter is definitely not conducive to letting your living room ‘breathe’ – so, ditch the extra pieces and pare things back to what really matters. For instance, on a coffee table, try to tone down your decor to just three or four items that work well together aesthetically. Use drawers and other storage options to tuck away anything unsightly or bulky, and when worst comes to worst, relocate items that don’t serve the space to another room where they’ll be more appreciated.

12. Decorate with pops of (coordinating) colour

Let colour be your guide when you’re adding those final stylistic touches that’ll bring the room together. Keeping in mind not to go too overboard, take the colours from your coordinating palette and select meaningful decor pieces that reflect your unique personality. By layering those core colours, you’ll create a visually strong and eye-catching point of view that can be translated throughout the space as necessary.

Not sure what kinds of decor pieces are ideal for styling a small space? Well, there are no rules, other than to keep it simple. Items that have a purpose, such as candles and candle holders, vases, plants and coffee table books are always a good pick, as they’ll actually get used rather than simply being nice to look at. Don’t forget to add cushions and blankets to cosy up your sofa, and inject lots of familiarity with personal touches like photo frames and sentimental items.

Just because you’re working with a smallliving room, you should never have to compromise style or practicality. Take these tips for making a small living room look (and feel!) bigger and run with them to create a gorgeous space you’ll never want to leave. Shop all of our living room favourites, including sofas, TV units, armchairs and more, to get started.

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